Dolly Parton Used to Go to the Club With Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein

Dolly Parton makes friends easily. Throughout her many years in the spotlight, she’s spent time with a number of notable artists. In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the Queen of Country recounts the nights she used to spend with Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein and how she got into writing dance music.

Dolly Parton dining with Andy Warhol at Windows On The World.
Dolly Parton and Andy Warhol | Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s first disco song: ‘Baby, I’m Burnin’

Dolly Parton music spans genres. But it wasn’t always that way. The East Tennessee native has strong country roots. In 1979, her first intentionally disco song hit the scene.

“I like any kind of music, including disco,” Parton wrote in her 2020 book. “‘Baby, I’m Burnin’ was the first time I wrote something made to be a disco song. Then they put dance beats to different songs of mine to play in the nightclubs, including ‘Jolene.'”

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“Baby, I’m Burnin” was on Parton’s Heartbreaker album, and it reached “No. 15 on the disco charts, No. 11 on the adult contemporary charts, No. 25 on the pop charts, and No. 48 on the country charts.”

It was the first song of Parton’s to score on the disco/dance charts, but it was not her last. Since then, Parton has had plenty of successful songs in various genres: “Dance remixes of ‘9 to 5’ (1981), ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (1981), ‘Potential New Boyfriend’ (1983), and her version of the Cat Stevens song ‘Peace Train’ (1977) have also been club favorites.”

Dolly Parton’s collaboration with Galantis for ‘Faith’

Then in 2020, Parton’s collaboration with the Swedish electronic duo Galantis, “Faith,” was at No. 1 on the dance charts for five consecutive weeks.

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“I think that the [2020] Galantis song ‘Faith’ is saying what we need to hear right now: Just have a little faith, show a little respect,” wrote Parton. “I got to write a little piece of it: ‘Let me shine and radiate / With your love and light. And help me make / Any change I can in this world today / Help me, Lord and show me the way.’ I loved the song, loved being a part of it, and loved doing the video. And boy, it got so much attention, so much airplay and streaming and whatever. The next thing I know, it became this huge hit. So I was lucky to get to work with that group.”

Studio 54 with Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein

Parton has spent some time in dance clubs herself, including many hours with Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein.

“I used to go to Studio 54 all the time and hang out with Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein and so many people,” she wrote. “Steve Rubell, who owned Studio 54, I just loved him to death. He was the sweetest little guy.”

Calvin Klein and Dolly Parton at the 1994 Fall Collections Fashion Show held at Bryant Park in New York City, NY.
Calvin Klein and Dolly Parton | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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While Parton has penned many dance hits throughout her career, she’s not one for dancing at a nightclub herself.

“Everybody was dancing,” she wrote. “I didn’t. I just liked watching, sitting there and being part of the whole scene. I’d just sit on the couch and talk to Andy Warhol.”

Despite Parton’s preference, her manager would sometimes successfully convince her to join him on the dance floor.

“My friend Sandy Gallin, my gay manager, would get me out there every once in a while to dance a little with him,” she wrote. “But I mostly just loved the commotion and the excitement and the thrill of that whole scene. It was the hottest thing going at the time.”